Facebook: A New Data Collection Policy & its Impact on Gaming

By On

When one door closes, another door opens; but we so often look so long and regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone.

Over the last year Facebook has gradually changed its relationship with gaming brands. We covered their update in August that targeted spammy posts and their upcoming update for 2015 that targets promotional content.

That brings us to this week, when Facebook announced a massive overhaul of its data collection policies for gaming developers with games hosted by Facebook, both those on Facebook Canvas and the third-party apps that use the login feature.

Today we’ll look at the key highlights of this change and explain the implications for both social and real-money gaming brands in the Facebook space. Although there are challenges ahead, another door is opening. What’s on the other side of that door is an exciting opportunity: mobile apps and alternative tracking methods.

Key Highlights

The news of a change to Facebook’s platform for game developers is not exactly ‘new’ news. It was revealed back in April, during the f8 developers conference, that the policy on app permissions was changing. However, that announcement focused mainly on the login features. It wasn’t until 30 October that Facebook officially unveiled the graph API v2.2 and updated iOS and Android SDKs.

There are many changes to the new API and Login features and they should be reviewed in full by all operators currently using the log-in feature or hosting their games on Facebook Canvas.  The key changes, though, are these:

  • Facebook apps will no longer have access to users’ friend lists (unless, that is, permission is explicitly granted by the user).
  • When friend lists are permitted, only friends who’ve already played the game rather than the person’s full friends list (the previous setting) will see the user’s played the game.
  • Facebook has placed a once-per-gaming-session limit on how many times apps can re-ask for permission to access a user’s friends list.
  • User IDs are changing from a simple numeric ID to a huge crypto token. This could affect developers who have limited character allowances for tracking code.

These points illustrate that for some gaming brands, the ROI may be less viable. Possible challenges include not being able to collect data on user acquisition and not being able to track data on converting players.

Opening the door to Mobile

Now that we’ve established that Facebook has become an increasingly hostile place for gaming operators, let’s examine what opportunities this change has created.  Operators who rely on Facebook Canvas to host their games can take this opportunity to move their games off Facebook Canvas and create their own apps.

As we highlighted in our blog post in October, mobile’s impact on social gaming and real-money gaming continues to grow exponentially.  With this rapid growth comes the need for advanced data tracking. At Income Access, we recently responded to this need by launching our mobile app-tracking solution.

In order to be successful in the migration and launch of mobile apps, it’s critical to have a solid strategic plan in place. Being able to collect tracking data is only a first step. The key to success is making that data actionable.

The days of easily available Facebook data collection and free advertising may be coming to an end. However, there is now an opportunity for operators to become leaders in a rapidly expanding space. They will ultimately have more control over their brands and their data. A door is opening. Are you ready to enter it?